The second season of True Detective, written by Nic Pizzolatto, is about caring and being fucked. To put it simply, only those who care survive, but the survivors need to run away to avoid being fucked. The rest—that is the non-caring—well, they all get fucked, sooner or later.
So in a way the moral is sad, and no less sad in that it’s a pretty accurate picture of contemporary capitalist society. Corruption, loneliness, fights for possessions—whether land, kids, property, even fights for the right to deal or not deal with one’s past.
“[T]here is no outside to the world market: the entire globe is its domain,” Michael Hardt and Toni Negri wrote in Empire. The two writers stress that there is no outside to capitalism, that there is no other world we can refer to as being better, more beautiful, more righteous, and so on. A possible change of an ethical approach in business comes from within as a kind of counter-actualization of something overlooked or neglected, for example from the few human beings who have the capacity to care for life not money.
In True Detective a missing girl says – as a reply to the question whether she shouldn’t aim for more in life than just fucking: “Everything is fucking.”
It is, since everything is business, and is cool and calculated transactions. Fucking is not making love; it is just one’s person assumed right to use another person to fulfill his or her desires. And here, True detective shows us that it apparently is more acceptable when men fuck than when women do.
The sadness of gender inequality is still here in 2015!
“I support feminism, mostly for having body image issues,” says detective Ray Velcoro to his female colleague, Antigone. This can be interpreted in many ways, but women are under more pressure from men, society, and, perhaps, themselves to live up to a sexy ideal, whereas men, apparently, can still be old, fat, and ugly and be sexy, as long as they have money or power. Also, many men can’t avoid seeing the body rather than the person when they speak with a woman. Of course, this is black and white; but in the end, it seems like Pizzolatto puts all the blame on capitalism, not men per se.
It makes you wonder: Will business corrupt women, like it did with the men?
Let me draw a parallel between death, capitalism, and sex. Climbing Mount Everest, one will at one point enter “the death zone” (above 8,000 kilometers). In this zone, the level of oxygen is so low that only very experienced mountaineers can survive with this level of oxygen. And common for many human beings in “the death zone” is that they become much more selfish. There are many stories of people passing dead bodies, or passing people asking for help but are left because the others are so seduced by their objective: to reach the top. Capitalism is similar to the death zone. Most people forget all about moral responsibility; they focus on the ends not the means. To be rich is to be on the top of the world. And sex… it has always been a good business—just see how the porn industry helped establish the Internet, together with the military. Sex and war—there you have it. Once upon a time, it was war and peace.
What happened with peace of mind?
And it doesn’t stop there. To add another moral: those who are capable of confronting their own nightmares—in the second season, related to past experiences of solitude or abuse—learn to care and then move on. The positive moral is that moving on and caring go hand in hand. We are offered a way out. However, caring is something more than self-compassion; rather, caring as in having compassion for others.
Nic Pizzolatto knows—or I assume he knows—that each of us is always secondary to life. Life came before us, and it will still be here when we are gone. It is ‘others’ who make us alive, and in that sense we all need one another. Those who care as elements of their own interests and egoism, like Ray and Paul (custody of his son and less heterosexual pressure), here fate catch up with them.
The caring element is one of two things that ties the second season with the first (see more of this here: True Detective: Pessimism, Buddhism or Philosophy?). A true detective cares . The other element that ties the seasons together is one of the many celebrated statements from Rust Cohle, that the “world needs bad men to keep the other bad men from the door.” It still does. Now, however, the world is just getting worse and worse, so it is not just a job for bad men but also for bad women to clean out. Thus, we need bad men and women. Paul, Ray, and Frank can’t do it alone; they need Jordan and Antigone.
Perhaps there is a reason why only the women survive, not the men. Is it because no one gets away with anything? Do men always fuck up?
The second season is about karma, the Buddhist concept that emphasizes our actions bring results. Each moment we plant seeds, those seeds will bear fruits depending on various circumstances. One can’t control the outcome, only one’s motive for planting this seed. Therefore, one’s intention becomes important.
The last and most important moral of True Detective: try to bring a moment of awareness and reflection to your actions, basically to make wise choices.
Is it wise of Paul to hide his sexuality? Apparently not.
Is it wise of Frank to want to kill everyone and get all the money before he escapes? Apparently not.
Is it wise of Ray first to abandon his kid and then to return and say good-bye while being on the run? Apparently not.
Is it wise of Antigone to share her story with another, like sharing the responsibility to make one’s own burden lighter? Apparently so.
No one survives alone (was that yet another moral?).
Ray Velcoro dies out in nature under a big tree, the Bodhi spot. He dies peacefully, perhaps because we are told that he already lived many lives and that he is tired. Frank dies in the desert. Often we associate the desert as being a limitless space, a kind of freedom. But those are just delusions: deserts are full of sand and have a lot of heat, but are devoid of water and people; nothing but death. Frank was already dead. He already died a long time ago, when he decided to enter the business world where legitimate businessmen can’t be distinguished from illegitimate. Business is entering “the death zone.”
Antigone is the only true detective in the second season. Next time, we need both bad men and women to keep the bad men and women from our doors. In the end, if everything is fucking, then not only men fuck.